View Full Version : Kingfisher and SDK supplies comparison pics

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01-10-2009, 08:17 PM
Pic 1 Top: SDK
Below: Kingfisher
http://img301.imageshack.us/img301/2153/13826376ao6.jpg (http://imageshack.us)

Pic 2 Top: Kingfisher
Below: SDK
http://img83.imageshack.us/img83/7957/55141707cp8.jpg (http://imageshack.us)

Pic 3 Top: Kingfisher
Below: SDK
http://img61.imageshack.us/img61/8747/83925318cm9.jpg (http://imageshack.us)

Pic 4 Top: Kingfisher
Below: SDK
http://img61.imageshack.us/img61/7758/73420263dm9.jpg (http://imageshack.us)

Pic 5 Right: SDK
Left: Kingfisher
http://img158.imageshack.us/img158/8130/21155588zk7.jpg (http://imageshack.us)

Pic 6 Right: Kingfisher
left: SDK
http://img266.imageshack.us/img266/405/95478384cc1.jpg (http://imageshack.us)

Pic 7 Image showing handle on SDK
http://img395.imageshack.us/img395/4663/82521480kd6.jpg (http://imageshack.us)

Pic 8 Right: Kingfisher
Left: SDK
http://img239.imageshack.us/img239/3396/63581876qv1.jpg (http://imageshack.us)

Hey guys,
just thought would share some pics of 2 of the most popular bokken suppliers as always mentioned on the forums.
When I was looking for a comparison of bokkens I could never find any actual pics so I hope these help :)

The kingfisher bokken is the standard sanded bokken they do but at the highest wood grade (L5) The other is a standard SDK supplies hickory bokken. They don't grade their wood but I believe Kim personally selects the best timber for the bokkens. I've only just received the Kingfisher bokken and have been using the SDK bokken for about a month.

Aesthetics wise both bokkens are obviously quite different. Bokken from SDK supplies has a few swirls on the handle and colour variation throughout the bokken, which I quite like and believe adds character to the bokken. The one from Kingfisher has a constant straight grain but with straight colour variation running down the blade end (as per pics). The kingfisher bokken is slightly stouter in profile but I believe slightly less than an Iwama bokken. Obviously any bokken that you order will have different characters.

Balance on the Kingfisher bokken is simply spot on. It is very close to that feeling when you're holding a katana. The SDK bokken I feel is very very slightly towards the tip heavy. I have another purpleheart SDK bokken and it doesn't feel as heavy towards the tip as this one.

A major difference which I've noticed on both bokkens is the texture (not sure if right context?) of the wood. The kingfisher bokken is very finely sanded and very smooth. The SDK bokken isn't sanded down as smoothly and the wood gives a nice grip/feedback when you hold it. I guess this would be similar in the higher-end hand-cut kingfisher bokken?

you simply can't go wrong when you order from either one. The Kingfisher bokken actually costs abit more because I added the inscription in my order.

PS. apologies that the pics aren't that great. am a really really bad photographer. I'll also eventually label the images to make it clearer which is the SDK and which is the Kingfisher bokken.


01-11-2009, 09:58 AM
Thanks for that.

What is the weight and length of each bokken. The Kingfisher sword, is it the "Aiki bokken" model ?

Sy Labthavikul
01-11-2009, 10:49 AM
I've trained with SDK and Kingfisher bokkens and this review is pretty much spot on. I personally prefer the SDK bokkens: less expensive, highly customizable (you can get pretty much any dimensions you like by just asking), good weight, fine wood, and nearly indestructible for my purposes. The kingfisher bokken, while clearly high on the craftsmanship scale, just are too light for my tastes. The one I practiced with weighed only 1 lb: felt quite whippy to me. But a beautiful weapon, definitely.

I currently have 3 SDK bokken, two shirokashi bokken and 1 hickory, all iwama style. The hickory bokken is pretty much like yours, but mine happens to have a much straighter grain, kinda like your kingfisher. I'm not partial to it though because hickory is fairly light. Its more resilient than the shirokashi by virtue of it being a bit softer and less brittle, but while we train with fairly heavy contact, the white oak feels heavy, substantial, and very solid and sound in my hands, a feeling I prefer because its how I want my kamae to be, haha. The white oak also refuses to dent or scratch substantially; the hickory one, while newer to me, looks more like a grizzled veteran with several nicks and dents in it already. haha.

The hickory bokken weighs about 1.3 lbs and the white oak 1.7 and 1.8. Then again, my favorite forms bokken is one made from macassar ebony, with substantially slender, more swordlike proportions, that weighs a whopping 2.4 lbs, so now the white oak is starting to feel pretty light now too... still working on those Popeye forearms!

01-11-2009, 05:09 PM
Hi David, the Kingfisher is the standard Aikiken and is about 42" long from their website. The SDK is slightly shorter, about 41" I'd say.
am sorry but don't have the weight :(

Sy Labthavikul, I've also realised that about hickory compared to white oak. The SDK at the moment is getting nice dents eventhough I've only used it for a few sessions over the past month :P
At the moment lookswise I love hickory, it just has alot of character on the wood. but that could also be the craftsmanship put into it :)
I know what you mean about shiro kashi weight. before this I was using a white oak Iwama bokken which I gave to a friend. very substantial presence compared to a hickory bokken which as you've said abit more whippy

01-13-2009, 10:40 AM
Thanks for taking the time to do this!

I own a Kingfisher bokken and SDK jo and my husband owns the opposite (Kingfisher Jo and SDK bokken) --- I'd say that although we love the quality, weight and balance of our Kingfisher weapons the most, we highly recommend the SDK weapons for great quality if you're on a budget and so many of the members of our dojo have ordered from SDK in the past.

One thing I really do appreciate, however, about SDK above that of Kingfisher is the ability to purchase a 1.25" diameter jo (instead of the usual skinny 1" ones) --- in particular that because they have to cut down a Bo blank for this, I was able to get my jo at a length properly customized to me (as I'm only 5'1" this is tough to find)!

Asiatic Budoka
01-14-2009, 03:55 PM
Thanks for this! I just recently purchased a hickory bokken and jo from SDK. I was a bit concerned because I've been accustomed to using the white oak Iwama bokken and white oak jo, the hickory ones just seemed a bit light and I was worried about heavy contact (kumitachi, kumijo).

It seems, according to your posts, that they should fair pretty well. I do have a question however...is it a good idea to condition the weapons with oil before heavy contact?

Thanks alot!

Sy Labthavikul
01-14-2009, 04:51 PM
I got some cheap bulk mineral oil from CVS just for this purpose. I sanded my weapons first, then applied a very thin coat with a rag and rubbed it in until it was only slightly slick to the touch, then i let it air dry over night. I repeated the process once more, then once it was dry again i sanded with a finer paper so the wood was relatively smooth but still had a good, non-sticky grip. This was two years ago: I've only reapplied oil once during that time but my weapons have held up a lot of abuse.

Janet Rosen
01-14-2009, 08:17 PM
I've had custom hickory weapons from sdk for many yrs and they are incredibly sturdy. Around 10 yrs ago I had a jerk of a sempai teaching weapons who decided the bokken must not be very "good" because it was lightweight, and he made it a point to partner with me and whack the heck out of it. It does carry a few small "dents" to this day, but he was obviously disappointed when it didn't splinter or fly to peices in my hands and I just trained and smiled. I regard those little dents very affectionately to this day :-)

01-15-2009, 05:50 AM
Thanks for sharing that Janet :) I know someone that likes to 'test' my bokkens too and similarly saying it was too light. I don't mind, :) part of training I guess. I've used white oak before but at the moment am partial to hickory.

Thanks for this! I just recently purchased a hickory bokken and jo from SDK. I was a bit concerned because I've been accustomed to using the white oak Iwama bokken and white oak jo, the hickory ones just seemed a bit light and I was worried about heavy contact (kumitachi, kumijo).

It seems, according to your posts, that they should fair pretty well. I do have a question however...is it a good idea to condition the weapons with oil before heavy contact?

Thanks alot!
white oak is slightly denser than hickory so the feeling of the bokkens are different. However denser wood doesn't relate to high impact strength. An interesting article re. specific gravity and impact strength which you might have come across.


Its really up to personal choice which wood you prefer. Its good that you've already experienced both so you can choose which one feels better to you. White oak is more dent resistant so you'll probably notice more bumps on your hickory bokken. Its advisable to slowly 'break in' hickory weapons ie. moderate contact to compress the surface of the wood over time.

I didn't oil my bokkens before using them. They should have already been oiled after being made. But I don't think it would hurt if you chose to oil it before practice.